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These Top Stocks Crashed As the Coronavirus Reached Pandemic Proportions

By Anders Bylund - Mar 11, 2020 at 6:03PM

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These high-quality stocks plunged on escalating COVID-19 worries on Wednesday.

What happened

A lot of technology stocks crashed again on Wednesday, driven entirely by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Fast-growing tech companies tend to be more volatile than most other stocks, which makes them susceptible to very large moves when the general market is unstable. Fiber-laser maker IPG Photonics (IPGP -3.39%) fell as much as 11%. Cloud-based customer service specialist Zendesk (ZEN 0.59%) bottomed out at a 10.8% decline. Data analytics expert Splunk (SPLK 3.96%) fell 10.6%, and alternative database developer MongoDB (MDB 3.67%) dropped as much as 10.1%.

So what

The COVID-19 coronavirus disease has now taken the lives of 4,600 people around the world among 125,000 infected. The World Health Organization declared that the disease should be considered a pandemic.

"Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom on Wednesday morning. "It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death."

But the virus has reached pandemic proportions and needs to be treated as such. Adhanom wanted to make it clear that all is not lost, however.

"We have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled," he said. "We cannot say this loudly enough, or clearly enough, or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic."

Drawing of a man carrying a large piggybank on his back, spilling coins as he runs away from a barrage of falling viruses.

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

That hopeful tone was not enough to stop a widespread market panic. These tech stocks were set up to plunge because of their lofty valuations. Splunk and Zen are trading at more than 90 times forward earnings estimates, and MongoDB isn't even expected to turn a profit over the next year, making it impossible to measure that stock's value by price-to-earnings ratios. IPG Photonics may look affordable next to those high-flying tickers, as it trades for just 25 times forward earnings, but this company was dealing with the fallout from the Chinese-American trade wars before the COVID-19 panic started.

These four stocks are now trading between 30% and 40% below their 52-week highs and much closer to their yearly lows. We're also looking at a handful of top-shelf companies here, each one rated either four or five stars in our five-star Motley Fool CAPS system. I can't guarantee that they will bounce back in a hurry when the coronavirus panic ends, but they certainly deserve a closer look at these low prices.

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Stocks Mentioned

Splunk Inc. Stock Quote
Splunk Inc.
$91.96 (3.96%) $3.50
IPG Photonics Corporation Stock Quote
IPG Photonics Corporation
$90.94 (-3.39%) $-3.19
Zendesk, Inc. Stock Quote
Zendesk, Inc.
$74.51 (0.59%) $0.44
MongoDB Stock Quote
$269.01 (3.67%) $9.51

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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